WRBB x Governors Ball 2019
Day 1 – Full lineup here
Hello from Randall’s Island! We’re excited to bring you daily recaps from this year’s Governors Ball. Staff writer Jason Crouse is on the ground taking some awesome photos of everything going on. Here are his thoughts on day 1.
I really thought that the footbridge across the Harlem River at East 103rd St was the best way for me to get to the fest given that I live at East 106th St, but my journey to the Governors Ball turned into a journey quite literally over the river and through the woods, up the entire length of Randall’s Island past flocks of geese and a field of horses. I was already tired of being outside by the time I got to the gate, but when you’re going to a festival you have to power thru.
My initial destination when I stepped inside was to scope out the meda tent. There were a bunch of outlets, a nice shady covering, but the one thing I was promised was very much missing: free water. I was assured the media tent would have free water, so I left my reusable water bottle at home to carry less weight in my backpack. But every time I came back to check the coolers, the supply had run dry, except for one point where I managed to grab the last remaining bottle. Whatever. I powered through and was only moderately dehydrated all day.
First up on my schedule was Cautious Clay. I’ve noticed a pattern of poorly scheduled timeslots for the festival, and Cautious Clay was one of them. He was wonderful — his fingers fluttered around his guitar and his voice burst with tenderness and emotion, but the set was not ideal for 2:15pm on a sunny day when everyone was energetic and ready to party. I know festival schedules are usually organized more by size and significance, but Gov Ball could stand to take another pass at their schedules to figure out where bands fit based on their vibe. Cautious Clay is a calming, early evening, right-as-the-sun-sets type of artist, and he deserved a more suitable place in the day.
Immediately following Clay was a slew of upbeat and more boppable artists. Hippo Campus came right after, with Mitski and The Internet playing dueling sets across the festival grounds for the 5:45 slot. I have never been a huge Hippo Campus fan. They have some certified #bops and they put on a fun show (this was the third time I’ve seen them, after all) but I have had too many unsettling experiences with their intense super fans to want to really like them. But anyway, they were fun and brought the mood up and kept it there. Mitski’s set was sort of…disappointing? This set was the same one I have seen a few other times so nothing was really new, but I expected that. At one point in time I was extremely attached to Mitski’s music and had a plethora of feelings invested in her work, but I think I have moved past that point in my life. Listening to those same songs evoked a whole lot of Nothing in me. I left her set after a few songs to see The Internet and managed to catch their last few tunes. I definitely preferred the intimate(ish) setting of Paradise in Boston as a place to see The Internet, since those smooth groovy bass riffs need walls to bounce off to wrap you in sound, but they are still one of the most solid bands making waves at this point in time and they are going places. I also would probably die for Syd, not to be dramatic.
My day at the ‘ball ended with a near-death experience at Brockhampton. I figured after risking death at their BC’18 set I would have learned a lesson, but honestly sometimes you have to make reckless decisions for the #content. I positioned myself in the center of the crowd — surrounded by at least 30 frat boys who were probably all named Chad — held my camera up, held down the shutter button, and prayed. I had one entire water bottle poured on me during the set and ended up being swept into no less than three separate mosh pits, but somehow through all that excitement I was let down by Brockhampton’s set. Maybe it was the atmosphere or my mild fear of death or my complete exhaustion after a brutal day in the sun, but while their performance was objectively sublime I just wasn’t feeling it. I still love them though and they certainly earned their spot as my #2 most-listened artist on Spotify in 2018.
After the fest, all I wanted was to go to bed but I had one more set to get to. My friend’s band was playing a show in Soho and I needed to make an appearance even though I was physically deceased. I came, I saw, I almost fell asleep standing up, and when I arrived home at the end of the day I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. On to the next day!
All photos by Jason Crouse